Venues

The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts

The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts
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Cost
R1200 for Gourmand menu (R1600 with wine pairing or R1500 with tea pairing); R525 Vegetarian Discovery Menu (R825 with wine); R625 Lunch Discovery menu (R925 with wine)
Ambience
Classic elegance, Contemporary cool
Food
Fine-dining food, Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
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Critic's review

Graham Howe

Food
Multiple Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year winnings and consecutive listings in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has put this rising South African star on the global map.

Take a seat at the bar counter next to the open kitchen to watch the crew of chefs prepare some of the most adventurous fare in the country in front of your eyes – and shout a chorus of ayes when patron chef Luke Dale-Roberts announces every order.

The best way for a novice to taste a range of signature dishes is to take a culinary journey through one of the set discovery, gourmand or vegetarian menus, with optional wine or tea pairings. The contemporary menu transforms ingredients using cutting-edge techniques that reflect Luke’s eclectic east-meets-west culinary style. The natural flavours of seasonal fare are enhanced through adventurous combinations and imaginative interpretations of local seafood, meats and vegetables. Every dish is a visual delight, layered with aroma, colour, flavour and texture in a clean, subtle and balanced style.

Watch out for the new springbok rose – liver, chestnuts, beetroot and cocoa nib. The tastes and textures of the sea, forest and land are poached, puréed and pickled to elevate the main ingredient with piquant Asian umami (shiitake in squid-ink chawanmushi with chestnuts), wood-smoked flavours (roasted cauliflower cream fumé), frothy foams (burnt red onion) and earthy mushrooms and root vegetables.

Inspired by the quality of artisanal produce sourced from local growers, markets and suppliers, every morsel tempts with playful food combinations (salt-aged scallop with squid ink in mirin tea) and imaginative compositions (signature slow-roasted pork belly with parsley-pressed apple squares and wild-rosemary-infused honey).

Head chef Ivor Jones and his crew pay meticulous attention to every detail of the artfully plated fare on bespoke crockery, which delights the eye as well as the palate.

Cleansing your palate with a pre-dessert is like a walk in a citrus orchard infused with the fragrance of zesty oranges and lemons. No wonder Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck calls Luke “a truly fantastic chef who puts incongruent ingredients together in a way that works amazingly well”.

Drinks
Expect inspired pairings with every plate. New sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka is at hand with a Champagne chariot to advise on drinks, from cutting-edge Cape and international marques to unusual wine varieties, new blends and craft beers.

Service
Top-notch, with smart servers in the know on the composition and ingredients that go into every dish, and ready with cool recommendations on the chef’s signature and seasonal dishes. The delivery of multiple courses of the tasting menus is well paced.

Ambience
Refreshingly relaxed. The retro warehouse space draws gastro-tourists from around the world, with a buzz of excitement every time a dish arrives at a neighbouring table.

And…
Book far ahead. You might have to wait months, but getting a table is all part of the anticipation. An insider’s tip: lunch tables are a shorter wait. Or put your name on the waiting list and be surprised by an invite to dinner one evening. Your turn will come!

(September 2015)

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  • Eat Out

    Food
    Local and international food lovers alike flock to this gem, often after a month-long wait to get a table – and what an exceptional meal awaits them. It’s no surprise that this celebrated eatery by chef Luke Dale-Roberts, the very deserving third-time winner of Restaurant of the Year, is now featured on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Incorporating South African flavours and some serious Asian flair, every dish is technically precise, totally original and beautiful to look at. More importantly, every mouthful, created under the watchful eye of head chef Ivor Jones, is delicious. The grilled scallop with miso and shiitake is brimming with expertly layered, clean Asian flavours – a beautifully balanced and well thought-out delight. A creation of ‘foie gras with four trees’ charms with flavours of oak, pine, chestnut and maple. The seared springbok is an innovative dish, with a turnip milk stencil in the form of a tree and a splash of fermented red cabbage. Every course shines with its own identity and outstanding quality.

    Wine
    An extensive wine list with a great selection of local wines. Sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn furnishes professional service and knowledgeable recommendations.

    
Service 

    Flawless, professional and slick, with smartly turned out staff members gliding quietly between the tables.

    
Ambience
    A perfect blend of edge and elegance. Seated in this workshop of a culinary master, you might feel like you’re in New York or Copenhagen. It’s been said before, but Luke has put Cape Town on the map.

    Comments by the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards judges 


    “Luke is a genius chef who excites and challenges the palates of his diners through flavour, ingredients, innovation and attitude. Every year it gets better and better.” – Abigail Donnelly

    “Luke’s cooking feels almost effortless, even when you know it’s anything but.” – Kate Wilson

    (August 2014)

     

  • Sheer in-your-face virtuosity, gutsy innovation and flavour. Luke Dale-Roberts’s dishes are experimental, exciting and conceptual. For this year’s judges, The Test Kitchen is the best combination of fine dining, venue, wine and theatre in the country. The casual, industrial-style setting belies the calibre of the cooking. No one can compete with Luke’s thinking, flavours and artful presentation. A micro universe is offered on every plate, so it’s difficult to choose highlights, but among them are Luke’s XO sauce, café au lait beef, maple-braised shabu shabu; roasted bone marrow; langoustine and smoked quail; clam and green tea pasta; veal tongue and mussel pie; pig’s head and blue cheese; and plum-cured foie gras. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
  • Linda Scarborough

    Food
    Words like experimental, inventive, thrilling and daring don’t even begin to describe eating at The Test Kitchen. Every dish shines brilliantly, from conception to execution, on your palate and in your memory. Executive chef Luke Dale-Roberts, who was named One to Watch by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 (The Test Kitchen is at no. 53) is virtuosic with his flavours, techniques, treatments and artful presentation. Choose either three courses from the ever-evolving menu (also offered for vegetarians – ask them to omit the gelatine if you’re strict), a five-course discovery, or go for the ten-course gourmand tasting menu. While eminently conceptual, the food follows through on flavour – and then some. The plates of ‘entertainments’ between the courses will amaze and amuse you too. Fairy-sized logs, croquettes and swirls arrive on stone squares and you might be served the now-famous savoury millionaire shortbread with gold salt, mirrored later in a sweet dessert. Luke’s Asian influence interplays with classic French techniques in dishes like cabbage three ways (one of them Korean-style kimchi) with horseradish cream and a flash of liquorice dust; smoked beef fillet with gorgonzola cream, miso-cured quail yolks and polenta parmesan tuille; and a sensational dessert combining passion-fruit curd, brûlée bananas, brandy snaps and mango sorbet that sings on your tongue. Unforgettable ingredients will seduce you out of your comfort zone, such as pig’s head and blue cheese, roasted bone marrow, veal tongue and mussel pie. Ultimately, describing The Test Kitchen’s food is futile. You have to eat there to fully experience the awe.

    Wine
    A world class wine list. Some very unusual wine pairings show off the innovative food. Best you surrender your taste buds to the expert sommelier, Wave. The cocktails are also praiseworthy, especially the pineapple cosmo punctuated with vanilla beans.

    Service
    Young, beautiful and highly trained waiters have a lot to live up to, and do. The staff-to-guest ratio is probably higher than you’ll find anywhere else.

    Ambience
    Walking through the unassuming doors, you will find yourself immersed in a stylishly edgy environment. The gleaming steel of the open-plan kitchen is complemented by industrial-inspired light fittings, wood and neutral hues. World travellers, food lovers and adventure seekers wait months for a table. Fittingly, a dramatic atmosphere prevails.

    And...
    Did we mention that you need to book ahead? Make a reservation right now. (Linda Scarborough, September 2013)

User reviews

  • Extremely disappointed in The Test Kitchen. 7 months of anticipation and what a let down! Food was below par, never eaten so much gelatin in my life. Worst part - they could 'not find' my R1500 deposit so It was not deducted from my bill. Ruined the evening and after I complained via email got a very 'sorry, not sorry' response. 48 hours later and still no deposit repaid. not worth the 10 k bill.
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  • After being super excited to experience the food at The Test Kitchen, we left disappointed and sorry that we did not rather go away for a whole weekend....for the same amount of money! No matter how small you make 10 courses, you WILL leave feeling completely stuffed. Why should I have 3 deserts (and not even one contained chocolate!)? And then be given a few, 'extra', sweet bites afterwards (and 4 little starters as the first course), almost as if you are feeling guilty for the amount you are charging and wanting to say: "But wait....there's more!!" And believe me, if you pay that much, you finish every single course! Don't get me wrong, the food was prepared to perfection. BUT after 10 courses it all turns into a blur and thinking back I can only remember 2 courses that I thought was amazing! My advise - rather go there for lunch so that you can choose what and how much to eat... or just go away for the weekend!
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  • As always this is the BEST restaurant in Africa and for me in the world. The ever changing dishes that is so well thought out and tested ....AWESOME. Thank you the the amazing staff of the Test Kitchen...the moment you enter the door, wonderful waiters, chefs and of course Luke Dale Roberts....what an life changing experience to me eating there. Thank you. Truly Golden moment in my life
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  • Would need a few new words in the foodie dictionary to accurately describe the sensational food of this place. BEST service ever. Every course exciting and uber tasty. Excellent wine pairings. Highly recommended and worth the wait.
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  • After waiting 6 months for a reservation, we decided to book for my 30th Birthday, we were first seated next to the toilets and then requested to move. There was a media table there that night that were clearly given the nicest table within the small restaurant, and the whole night we had photographers walking around our table to get shots of them, other than this the food was not worth the prices charged, and the flavours were average. the Pot Luck club is by far better and more reasonable, would not return to The test kitchen.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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